California Drought Monitor Map Shows Extreme Drought, Which May Get Worse
California Drought Monitor Map Shows Extreme Drought, Which May Get Worse

The California drought wreaked havoc on the state in 2013, and it is still worsening, worrying farmers and other residents.

2013 was the driest year on record.

“It’s about the worst I’ve ever seen,” Jim Warren of Gilroy Ranch told the San Jose Mercury News.

He had to import loads of hay; as he was speaking, his herd of Angus cattle went to eat hay from a load that cost $6,000.

The drought map of the state ” looks as if it has been set on fire and scorched in the center,” the Mercury News declared. The lack of rainfall has set records, including in San Jose, where it has rained only 3.8 inches since January 2013, compared with its 14 inch average. The previous record low was 6.04 inches.

Oakland’s 3.39 inches in 2013 was well short of its 22.8 inch average. Its previous record low was 8.69 inches.

Downtown Los Angeles received a meager 3.60 inches of rain since Jan. 1, the driest calendar year since 1877. Normally, downtown would be soaked with about 15 inches of precipitation.

Similarly, San Francisco recorded just 5.59 inches of rain since the beginning of the year, 18 inches below normal. Sacramento is 14 inches below average after receiving 6.13 inches of rain this year.

The California Drought Monitor map shows a huge red spot encompassing Fresno and Bakersfield, while San Jose, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego are all marked orange for record or near-record lows.

Nearly 95 percent of the state is in drought, according to the latest map.

The U.S. Drought Monitor said that because of “longer-term rainfall deficits (2.0 – 8.0 inches below normal) during the past 180 days and 10-20 percent of normal during the past 90 days, the drought depiction including extreme drought was not modified.”

In fact, the “severe drought” was expanded slightly across northern California over the last several weeks.

The lack of rainfall is impacting many cities, such as Folsom, which has ordered mandatory water conservation measures after its reservoir is at a record low. These mandatory measures may be ordered soon for Sacramento, a city with almost 500,000 residents.

“It’s been pitiful,” said Bob Benjamin, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Monterey, Calif. “It’s a concern, but we do have several months to catch up.”

The worst part is–the long-term outlook for California calls for the drought to persist or intensify.

The drought has been so bad that in Folsom Lake, which is experiencing historically low water levels, the remains of a Gold-Rush era mining town that flooded decades ago have been exposed.

Remnants of the town of Mormon Island have been uncovered by the lake’s receding waters, drawing people out to the lakebed in search of artifacts, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Many of the state’s major reservoirs are below average for the month.

Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, is currently at 37 percent of its total capacity. Folsom Lake recently dipped below 20 percent of its capacity, marking a historic low for the month. This triggered some communities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region to issue water conservation orders.

State water managers are also discussing transferring water from places with relative abundance to communities facing critical shortages.

Even before the state was gripped by record dryness, several cities, including Santa Monica and Long Beach in Southern California, have planned to reduce their dependence on imported water in the coming years by maximizing groundwater supplies, harvesting stormwater and increasing recycled water distribution.

Despite an arid year, forecasters said the rainy season is not over yet. In past years, a dry December gave way to storms in January.

“Or we can get a miracle March that bails us out a little bit,” said state climatologist Michael Anderson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Washington State Drought: 2013 Ends with ‘Abnormally Dry’ Conditions

Idaho Drought Monitor Map Shows ‘Severe’ and ‘Extreme’ Drought

  • sw hawaii

    I live in Hilo, Hawaii where we were drenched over the last few days with record rainfall. Nearly 8 inches officially in a 24 hr. period at the airport, while some areas north along the coast received over 20 inches of rain in 24 hours. Officially for the month we were a little over 20 inches, well above our normal of 11″+ for December. That brought our total to 102″ for the year, and while that may sound like a lot, here in Hilo it’s considered borderline drought, as it’s still about 25″ below normal for the year, making the 4th or 5th year in a row where we’ve been below normal. Nevertheless, wish we could send some of our rain to California to help some of those folks out. Aloha…

  • Big_Fat_Jim

    There is still plenty of water in California, the problem is with distribution that should have been addressed long ago.

    • epazote

      A huge problem is the tremendous amounts of water used in keeping non native landscapes lush and green. It’s long past time to mandate zero-scaping (drought tolerant, native species) for all properties south of LA. Say goodbye to lawns.

      • Classical_Gas

        That’s a huge problem everywhere served by the Colorado River Compact. The river has long been over-allocated.

        The Colorado Compact has recently been open for re-negotiation. I think all of the water users in the pool will have to make some hard choices.

        The Southwest corner of the Compact area has been shorted for many years, and are (rightfully) making a big stink about it.

      • figalicious

        I haven’t had a lawn for 20 years…such a waste of resources. Native plants and drought tolerant ground cover is the way I’ve gone. My well too is dry, having to truck in water for now.

  • takawalk

    it has been pretty normal on the Gulf Coast

  • Robin S Summertown

    Considering that the jet stream has been behaving so erratically the past couple of years, how can anyone begin to depend on that map. The area of my state is two feet above normal for rain fall yet the map is showing a return to drought.

    • Richard M

      Here in N Texas the city govt’s impose lawn watering restrictions. Yet in the city parks, I’ve seen the sprinklers go on underwater, when there is flooding along the bike path.

      Actually, I don’t see it, so much as hear those sprinklers merrily burbling away, under a foot or two of water.

  • Sara Lee

    None of you really understand . Due to the LOSS of Ground Water, Due to the Sale of Stored Lake Water to Large Cities…THERE IS NO MORE WATER in Central California!!!!!!!!!!!

    With NO WATER, what would your Home be worth???? Look into what happened in Oklahoma and Texas.
    Why is it so much cheaper to live there???? WATER. A lot of homes have the Water Trucked in. But the Land Value is NOT THERE. So ask yourself something….’What COULD happen to my Land Value WITHOUT the Availability of Water????’

    There is NO GROUND WATER to put a Well in for. The Federal Government SELLS the Stored Lake Water to San Francisco and Los Angeles Areas. THERE IS NO MORE WATER IN CALIFORNIA!!! Wells are drying up!!!!!!!!! Most of the Large Farms are going to ‘Dry Farming’ due to the lack of Water!!!! Look it up!!!!!!!!!!

    The cost of food will be going up and more food will be imported WITHOUT FDA INSPECTION due to NAFTA!!! Look it up!!!

    The current Bottled Water available is NOT Spring Water nor is it Well Water!!!!!!!! Your Bottled Water is RECYCLED WASTE Water from the Great Lakes!!!!!!!!!! The Great Lakes have a number of Waste Water Recycle Plants right on the Lakes. Look it up!!!

    • john doe

      what the hell is wrong with you

    • Richard M

      Soylent Green is people!

      • capkelly

        Do you eat them?

        • Richard M

          No sir. Not knowingly.

    • capkelly

      There was no Las Vegas before air conditioning. Is CA forever going to be able to get water from Colorado? I dunno but would think a desalinization plant would be in order….

  • Kyle Chittock

    There may not be much water left. But there is a solution. It’s possible to grow you own feed every day, year round, with no regards (at least an inconsequential amount) to drought. “Fodder” takes less than 3% of the amount of water required for standard forage production. A machine that takes up just 200 square feet can feed over 60 head of cattle – cheaper than hay, and more nutritious.

    • Classical_Gas

      Thanks for that info – it looks like quite an innovation.

  • Richard M

    I wonder how cities will “maximize groundwater supplies”? I mean, the water is in the ground. It is, what it is. How do you maximize it?

  • capkelly

    This is just really, really bad and will be a disaster. It is very extreme drought now.

  • Geoffrey Harris

    Is this typical? Note the important thing is to amuse the dumb masses with televised sporting events as usual.
    Last week the weather was so hot in Australia bats were dropping dead in mid-flight and raining from the sky. This week it’s no different, with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for several days in a row in some areas. This has created a challenging environment for athletes and fans at the Australian Open tennis matches in Melbourne.

    • Geoffrey Harris

      “Climate change to blame?

      Debate exists over whether climate change has played a role in this or other extreme heat waves in recent years.

      James Hansen, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, co-authored a report in 2012 that made a close connection between climate change and the increasing occurrence of heat waves since 2000. Hansen’s team wrote, “It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.”

      Martin Hoerling, a meteorologist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., on the other hand, says that climate change has not affected the frequency of heat waves, which are part of normal weather patterns. However the maximum temperatures of those heat waves have increased as average global temperatures have risen over the past century or so.

      “There is no evidence that the patterns are becoming more energetic or more frequent. It’s simply that when those weather patterns occur, they now occur in a warmer climate,” Hoerling told LiveScience.

      The features of the atmosphere that drive large-scale air currents related to heat waves are seated deep in the atmosphere, Hoerling said. The warming planet’s current warming is occurring lower down in the atmosphere, and therefore has not yet deeply affected the atmospheric patterns that drive large-scale weather and climate patterns.

      As the planet continues to warm, however, those deep-seated features of the atmosphere may, indeed, experience more significant changes, Hoerling said.”

  • Geoffrey Harris

    Is this typical? No. It is not. “SAN FRANCISCO – Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Friday, citing a need for conservation efforts and a fingers-crossed message that he “hopes it will rain” soon during what looks like it will be the driest year on record in the history of California.”…/Gov-Jerry-Brown-Orders…

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